Mobster Joey "the Clown" Lombardo, one of the five Outfit associates convicted in the landmark Family Secrets trial that riveted Chicago for weeks with its lurid testimony about 18 decades-old gangland slayings, was sentenced to life in prison this afternoon.
U.S. District Judge James Zagel levied the sentenc after the aging mob boss addressed the court in a gravelly voice and denied having anything to do with the Seifert murder.
The judge said that unlike co-defendants in case, Lombardo showed some balance in judgment and some ability to charm people. But in the end, defendants must be judged by their actions, "not about our wit and our smiles," Zagel said. "The worst things you have done are terrible, and I see no regret in you," the judge told Lombardo in handing down the life sentence.
Lombardo, the wisecracking elder statesman of the mob, and four other defendants were found guilty in 2007 of a racketeering conspiracy that stretched back to the 1960s and included extorting "street taxes," collecting high-interest "juice" loans, running illegal gambling operations and using violence and murder to protect the mob's interests.
He also was found guilty of the 1974 murder of federal witness Daniel Seifert and of obstructing justice by fleeing from authorities after his indictment. He faced a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Lombardo was sent to federal prison in the 1980s for conspiring with International Brotherhood of Teamsters President Roy Lee Williams and union pension fund manager Allen Dorfman to bribe Sen. Howard Cannon (D-Nev.) to help defeat a trucking deregulation bill. Cannon was never charged with any wrongdoing and the bill became law with his support.
When Lombardo got out, he resumed life as the boss of the mob's Grand Avenue street crew, prosecutors said. He denied it. but his attorney, Rick Halprin, told the trial he ran "the oldest and most reliable floating craps game on Grand Avenue."
When the Family Secrets indictment was unsealed, Lombardo went on the lam for nine months. He ultimately was brought before U.S. District Judge James Zagel.
Two of Lombardo's co-defendants were sentenced last week. Paul "the Indian" Schiro got 20 years for the racketeering conviction, and Frank Calabrese Sr. got life for racketeering and for seven murders.
James Marcello, once called Chicago's mob boss by authorities, is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday.
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